Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Staff picks: My Audrey Mitts.

It's that time of year again.  The holiday stitching rush has begun.  To help you out, we thought we'd share some of the Loops Troops' favorite "staff picks" for yarns and projects this season.

I'll go first.  Because, well, I can. 

But first, a disclaimer:  If you're someone who might possibly be on my personal gift list, please stop reading now.  Please.  It's so much more fun for both of us when you're surprised.

So this year, I'm obsessed with these Audrey Gloves.  Not only does it call for 100% cashmere, the perfect gifting fiber, but the pattern is easy.  Seriously easy.  Way easier than they look.  And fast.  Seriously fast.

I just got back from New York City, and I managed to get one mitt done on each leg of the flight.  On the last leg (Detroit to Tulsa), I decided to take some lovely step-by-step, in-flight pictures to show you exactly how easy these are.

Step 1:  Make a rectangle.  There are two little rows of seed stitch.  And there is a twisted rib stitch, but if for some reason that freaks you out, just do plain 1x1 rib stitch. 

Step 2: Seam up one end.  There's no pesky thumb gusset to deal with.  This is my favorite cheater way of making a thumb hole.

Step 3: Seam up the other end.  See?  A thumb hole.

Step 4:  Make a smaller rectangle.  Position it where you want it.  I experimented a bit with this.  (Okay, I didn't follow directions well and sometimes positioned it wherever I wanted it, but it turned out ok.  Full disclosure.)

Step 5:  Make a third, tiny rectangle.  

Step 6: Sew the tiny rectangle in place to make a bow.  It's not a science.  Just get it on there.

Step 7:  Done!  Now make another one!  These are so much fun, I experienced little to no "second mitt syndrome."

In fact, I made 3 pairs on the trip!

On the left:  Jade Sapphire 8-Ply.  In the middle, Lobster Pot Cashmere.  On the right, Jade Sapphire Handspun (less stitch definition but oh-my-so-soft).  Each pair takes just one skein.  You can buy the Jade Sapphire versions as kits, or you can get the Lobster Pot here and ask us to add on a pattern to your order for $5.99.  

And guess what else?  For you overachievers, we have a matching hat pattern!  YAY!

- Shelley
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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shawl by Melanie.

Sometimes, the coolest ideas just walk right through our front door at Loops.

Melanie came in wearing what first appeared to be an awesome sweater, but on closer examination, was an awesome shawl.  

After we stopped oohing, aahing and possibly even drooling a little, she told us it was her own design, whipped up between shifts as an ER doctor in NYC.  She kindly agreed to let us take photos.

And even more kindly, she agreed to share her pattern.

Despite my very large queue of holiday gift knitting, I began to obsess over this shawl. Melanie used a light worsted baby alpaca.  So I found two great yarns in our stores that would fit the bill.  Berroco Flicker is an extremely soft, airy alpaca blend with the tiniest flicker of sparkle - enough for a holiday party but also great for everyday wear with jeans.  I was very, very tempted by the Violette blue (#3339).

Rowan Lima is also the perfect gauge and alpaca blend.  I thought long and hard over using the off-white #890, which on closer inspection is a melange of creams with a touch of pale yellow.  So pretty!

And then, my eyes landed this.

Could I really justify a fourth project in as many months with this luscious, cashmere/silk ArtYarns Ensemble Glitter Light?  Well, it has 400 yards, which is just under the 2 skeins Melanie had for her project - and she had a bit left over.  So the answer is, if I can get a whole shawl out of one skein, then YES, yes I can justify it!

I'll keep ya'll posted on the progress.  Nancy came by yesterday while I was choosing yarn, and she decided to knit along with me.  She chose the Lima (4 balls).

If you'd like to knit along with us, here is the pattern:
Yarn: 440 yards alpaca or alpaca blend
Needles: #15 24" circular
Cast on 110 sts.
Knit 10 rows. 
Begin 4-row box stitch repeat: 
1. k15, *k2, p2, repeat from *, k last 15 sts 
2. k15 , *p2 k2, repeat from *, k last 15 sts 
3. k15, *p2, k2, repeat from *, k last 15 sts
4. k15,* k2, p2, repeat from *, k last 15
Repeat rows 1-4 until desired length for shawl is reached. 
Knit 10 rows.  Bind off.  Receive many compliments :)

Thanks again for sharing, Melanie!

- Shelley
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